Kel-Tec CMR 30, by Pat Cascio

The debate seems to have no end, when it comes to rifles (and handguns) for the End Times, or a SHTF event. Everyone has an opinion on this subject, and we are all entitled to our opinions – and I don’t think there is a right or wrong opinion – it’s just that – an opinion. Not everyone wants an AR-15 type of rifle or carbine, nor does everyone want an AK-47 type of rifle. These are probably two of the most popular firearms when talk turns to defending oneself and their family, in a very bad situation, where there is no Without Rule Of Law (WROL) and we have to depend on ourselves and our weapons to stay safe.

My preferred weapon for the bad times are AR-15 types of rifles or carbines. However, I have no problem whatsoever, with a quality-made AK-47 type of rifle for the same purposes. When push comes to shove, I’ll pick-up an AR first if I have that choice.

Those in the AR camp, feel that the AR is the better weapon for combat or survival for many reasons. Number one is the quality of most ARs, and secondly, they are light-weight, and the ammo .223 or 5.56mm is more readily available, and you can pack a lot more of this light-weight ammo, than you can the 7.62X39 round – that most AKs take. Plus, if you want a reliable AK mag, you really need to go with the steel mags. I’ve not been pleased with some of the polymer mags that are available for AKs. Steel mags add weight – a lot more weight. Most AR 30-round magazines are made out of polymer or aluminum alloy and are much lighter in weight. And  because they have a less pronounced curve they are also more compact – and thus easier to carry in your web gear. Yeah, I know, there are some steel mags for ARs, but I don’t like ‘em – my preferred AR mag is the MagPul PMags – polymer – and they are the best mags on the market – end of story.

Spare parts are easy to come by for ARs, not so easy for AKs – and when the chips fall, you may not be able to find spare AK parts. But AR spare parts are readily available all over the place. There are lots of reasons to pick an AR over an AK if you ask me.

However, this article isn’t about AR versus AK for the End Times or any serious SHTF scenario. Instead, we are looking at an alternative to both the AR and AK, and that is the Kel-Tec CMR-30, and this is one fine weapon. First off, this little carbine is chambered in .22 Magnum – not .22 LR – and the .22 Mag has a lot more power compared to the .22 LR. Plus, we are looking at magazines – it comes with two, that hold 30 rounds each. Yeep, 30-round .22 Magnum magazines – that’s a lot of firepower.

Let’s be honest, not everyone is into guns like many of our readers are, and some are recoil shy, not that most of us find the recoil of a .223 Rem or 5.56mm round to be objectionable in the least. Still, some smaller-statured folks, like women and young adults are intimidated by recoil, and the muzzle blast of some firearms. The .22 Magnum doesn’t have much muzzle blast, and you can, if forced to, fire the CMR-30 without hearing protection if you have to.  And, when it comes to recoil, there really isn’t any to speak of with a .22 Magnum long gun.

CMR-30 Specifications

Kel-Tec CMR-30Let’s take a close look at the Kel-Tec CMR-30. First off, as already mentioned, it is a carbine-length firearm, with a 16.25-inch barrel, and the barrel is threaded 1/2×28 to accept AR flash suppressor, or even a sound suppressor if you want to pay for the $200 Federal tax stamp, to go that route. It is chambered in .22 Magnum –sometimes called .22 WMR. That ammo is readily available, although not nearly as inexpensive as it once was. The gun only weighs 3.8-lbs empty and only slightly more fully loaded. The overall length is 29.9-inches with the telescoping stock in the full open position, and 22.5-inches with the stock closed. Kel-Tec says the trigger is 5 pounds. But on my new in the box sample, it came in at 3.75-lbs and it is sweet – super sweet. MagPul back up sights come mounted on the receiver, and they are polymer, but not cheap sights. They fold down and spring up when needed. You can also mount a scope or red dot sight on this little carbine, and I plan on installing a red dot sight when I get the funds to do so.

The 30-round magazine inserts flush into the pistol grip, so there is no protruding magazine, screaming “assault weapon” to some ill-informed folks. The telescoping stock has 5 different positions it can be locked in, so it’ll fit just about anyone.  There is an ambidextrous safety, and the magazine release is in the heel of the pistol grip. There is also an ambidextrous charging handle, and it is non-reciprocating. The top rail and bottom rail are standard Picatinny type rails, for mounting lights and lasers. I covered the bottom rail with rubber ladder type covers, since I found the Picatinny rail a bit sharp and tough on the supporting hand.  I also installed an AR flash suppressor – didn’t need it – not much flash to speak of – but it just looks cool with the flash suppressor on it.

It Likes 40-Grain Ammo

When the last shot if fired, the bolt stays open, and you can release it via the bolt release – VERY stiff – or insert another loaded mag and keep shooting. I was advised by the guys at the local gun shop that I haunt, that you really need to fire .22 Mag ammo with bullets that weigh at least 40 grains, and sure enough, it states this in the owner’s manual, as well. I tried a box of 36 grain bullets, and most fired without problem – but a few didn’t chamber. So, I’m sticking with 40 grain bullets. I’ve had zero problems with 500 rounds down range of various makes and types of .22 Magnum 40 grain ammo – both FMJ and Hollow Point.

As to the cost of ammo, this is a little bit – not much – of a sore spot. It wasn’t all that long ago, that you could get 50-rds of .22 Mag ammo for around $5.00 per box, but those days are long gone. My local gun shop actually sells 40 grain .22 Mag FMJ for $10.00 per box, and about a buck more for Hollow Point stuff. I can live with the cost, compared to .22 LR ammo, simply because .22 Magnum is lot more powerful than .22 LR ammo.

Kel-Tec CMR-30Needless to say, I have more than a few volunteer shooters who wanted to help me in my testing. My wife and oldest daughter included. Everyone absolutely fell in love with the CMR-30 – it is just a lot of fun to shoot, and accurate? You betcha! The sights were off just a little bit, and only took a minute to get them zeroed dead-on for a 25 yard zero. Keep in mind that the .22 Magnum is a very flat shooting round, and we could easily get hits out to 150 yards on big rocks without making any further adjustments to the sights or any hold-over. We also filled some gallon plastic jugs with water and fired into them with both the FMJ and Hollow Point rounds – the Hollow Point ammo did more damage, however, the FMJ would get the job done just as well if called upon to be used for self-defense or hunting purposes.

A Magazine Loading Suggestion

One thing worth mentioning is that when loading the 30-round magazines, after loading every five rounds, make sure you give the back of the magazine a rap on the palm of your hand, to help seat the bullets. You see, the .22 Mag is a rimmed cartridge, and by seating the rounds, you won’t have any problems with them feeding.

Kel-Tec CMR-30The CMR-30 retails for about $625 – so this isn’t any “cheap” little fun gun, it is spendy. You can presently get into an entry-level AR for less than that – a lot less – if you shop around. For example, Palmetto State Armory recently had these on sale for just $419.99. (At the Palmetto web site, put SKU 51156 in their search box.) I got my CMR-30 sample for $499 – brand-new and its well worth the money, it really is. I also picked-up half a dozen spare 30-round magazines for it, too. A person can easily pack 1,000 rounds of .22 Mag ammo in their backpack. With all my spare magazines loaded as well – that’s a lot of firepower. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a .22 Magnum round – and I think anyone within 150-yards or every farther away, would sure wish they had a dental appointment for a root canal, instead of being fired at by a rifle in .22 Magnum.

If you’re looking for an alternative to an AR or an AK, then check out the Kel-Tec CMR-30. It is one heck of a little Bug Out Bag rifle that doesn’t scream “assault weapon”. It is fun and easy to shoot, and more than accurate – at 25 yards. One inch groups were easy to accomplish. This might just be your next long gun purchase for your prepper armory. Check one out.

JWR Adds a Note to the guns’ designer, George L. Kellgren: The next logical design progression would be one of these sold as an “arm-braced pistol” with about a 9″ barrel, a hand stop, and a SB Tactical SB3 arm brace. That would sell like hotcakes!


  1. sells 45 grain critical defence ammo for the 22mag, This stuff runs very well through the keltec. And packs a little more punch.

  2. 22 Magnum, another round to stock in quantity? You’re in a SHTF firefight and run out of 22 Mag so you turn to one of the other guys … you know, the ones using 223/556 and then you realize that you’re the only one in the string of 12 freedom fighters using an oddball round and magazine.

    I’ve no doubt it’s a great gun, but the practicality factor is not present. The common military rounds are 556, 9mm, 45 ACP, and 762 not 22 mags.

    The same applies for the magazine commonality.

    I guess, in my own cirlcle, I’ve prepped for common weapons, and save the money for oddball purchases for the day I’m richer, perhaps you are already there.

    1. One You Tube I saw someone trying to say a handgun in 454 Casual was the way to go. Now someone is pushing the 22Mag. No way!. I would not even consider it. A firearm is useless if you can not obtain ammo for it.

      Stick with the common calibers.

  3. I took my sons up in the mountains to shoot their rifles. One had his 22, the other had his 22 mag.

    Targets were put on 2 pine trees. The 22 mag was going all the way through 7 inches of pine. That’s something to think about!

    If I was only allowed one caliber to survive with, it would be a 22 mag.

    1. A .22 LR will penetrate 1″ pine at 100 yards. Most animals that one would hunt with a .22 Magnum can be taken with a .22 LR.

      I checked Midway USA for pricing. Given that .223 is not much more expensive than .22 Magnum, I’m sticking with .22 LR and .223 (and 7.62×39, .308, 300 Win Mag, etc., etc., etc.)

  4. This is a nice little carbine and it takes the same magazines as the KelTec PMR 30 pistol. Rifle & pistol fully loaded weigh less than an empty AR 15 and you have 60 rounds available rite quick. Muzzle blast on the PMR 30 could be an issue at night but the carbine should be no problem

  5. I seem to remember rifles chambered in .22 LR and .22 Mag back when I was a teenager. I never had one but I feel like I remember others who did own them. Maybe my memory is flawed but I seem to remember them being pretty popular and common where I lived at the time.

    Was that dual chambering real or just my imagination? Are there still some of those around? If they did exist and don’t anymore why did they go away?

    1. Several revolvers [with spare cylinders] you can shoot either 22 LR or Mag but not aware of a rifle. You can if needed fire a 22 LR in the Mag but the case usually swells and splits making extraction harder and accuracy usually not the best.

  6. Many years ago my brother had a kel-tec break-down carbine in 9mm. From what I remember it was a good gun, at the time he wanted something his wife could shoot easily and accurately. In retrospect the break-down would make it an excellent vehicle weapon, but alas it was sold years ago.

    I’m not planning on acquiring one, but I will concede that it would be immensely cheaper to train with .22 mag than .223…

  7. I looked into the cmr-30 and almost bought one. I have the same problem Gregory Knox ( see above) has. Instead, I bought the Kel-Tec sub 2000 for a super lightweight carbine. With a 32 round Glock magizine in 9mm it has plenty of firepower, and will fit in a small computer case when folded ! M- Carbo makes all kind of accessories for it too.

  8. I was a bit surprised to see the CMR30 reviewed here. I am pleased, but still surprised, since this carbine is “outside the AR15/AK47 box”. Still, I believe it has a niche in the preps of many of us.

    I own one of these handy little carbines, bought for use by a spouse with a short stature and scant experience with firearms. Its light weight, handiness, the power to size/weight ratio of the ammo, the fact that it is less threatening for someone without any firearms experience than either an AR or AK, and it’s extremely low recoil/report seemed to make it a good choice.

    If my plans ever include traveling on foot for any lengthy distance during a crisis (I.e., my only resources being what I carry on my back) I would carry this (and a full power pistol). One can carry multiple rounds of .22Mag for the same weight and volume of either the 5.56 or 7.62 ammo. Magazines are also much more compact than those for the AR or AK, allowing me to carry many, many more rounds and ready reloads than either of the other rifles.

    Over the years I had not been a fan of the .22Mag. I felt, like survivormann99, that there was little practical difference between the .22LR and .22Mag. A recent study of .22Mag ballistics has opened my eyes. The velocity difference between the two is quite substantial. The velocity of the .22Mag, especially from a rifle length barrel, is a substantial fraction of the 5.56, even more so when the 5.56 is fired from one of the pistol length barrels which seem so ubiquitous these days.

    The loadings for all .22Mag ammo are a compromise. It has to be so. They must be able to function equally well in a 16 inch barrel rifle and a 1 inch barreled mini-revolver, and everything in between. In my research I learned of a test which showed that barrels longer than 12 inches give no additional velocity in .22Mag. JWR has it right. A shorter barreled version would be very handy and just as effective as the full length one. Just the opposite of the short barreled AR or AK which lose velocity quickly when barrel lengths are shorter.

    Being a grown, gun totin’, man I will keep my AR and 91 for most tasks. They are good tools and I possess the knowledge, training, and skills use them effectively. If I were a novice gunner, anxious around a rifle, or were forced to travel great distances on foot, perhaps to get to a retreat or a back up location, I would gladly take my CMR30 and LOTS of ammo.

    Thanks Pat, for thinking outside the box and showing us a new option.

  9. Just for fun, I’d like to see a vz.63 Skorpion with an “arm brace”. Or perhaps the wooden appendage at the rear of a 10″ M1927 Thompson could experience a similar change in nomenclature.

    A few years ago, .22 Magnum had all but vanished. One local store did have a large supply of .22 WRF. I believe this could be fired in revolvers and single shot rifles chambered for .22 Mag. There was a store I recall that had a huge supply of .257 Roberts. Sometimes those “rare” or “oddball” cartridges could be locally abundant.

  10. I have at least 5 .22LR rifles. But last year bought my first .22WMR, a 16 inch barrel Ruger American bolt gun. Very nice accurate and powerful shooting little rifle. When I have the extra coin I have always wanted the CMR. I own at least 3 other Keltec firearms so know them well. Innovative and cool. One could do way worse than to stash this CMR in their bugout pack. Pat is right with this eval. One real tactical advantage know one mentioned was less noise when fired than an AR or AK type rifle. This could be critical in certain situations. Don’t want to attract unwelcome attention of the undesirable sort.

  11. Great review love the 22 mag round. My first pistol was a stainless steel ruger revolver with interchangeable cylinders. That got me hooked on the round for woodchuck hunting as it has more reach and knock down. Yet i liked it because it lacked the big gun noise and was prefect for country shooting where we have some homes in the distance you wanted to b careful about.

  12. Your polymer Mags are fine unless you hump them in your firearm all day everyday for months at a time. The mag catch on the polymer Mags will wear over time and fail to engage. I didn’t know this until one day they failed me. Metal mags all the way. I can’t say they won’t last for months, but I can say they won’t last for years if the use is sustained. This is just from experience. To each his own. I’ll go with what I know won’t get wore out.

  13. I’ve used the .22 WMR for a long time for some of my hunting. I think Kel-Tec was smart for choosing this cartridge – it has some advantages over larger, more powerful rounds. Magnum autoloaders have been hit and miss (mostly miss as the pressure of cartridge and blowback operation require precise work) and I hope Kel-Tec got it right.

  14. I have hunted legally for years with the .22 WMR taking deer many other N. American species. This is a great cartridge when used within it’s capabilities (one needs to know this). A rifle pared with a pistol/revolver in the same caliber could be a very good choice for the minimalist/frugal preppier.

  15. Go PMags for the AK too! They work without a hitch in both Type 56 and Pap M70.

    I run both AK and AR weapons for the bunker. AR’s for primary duty, and AK’s as backup or squad auto role with drums. Each weapon has 10 duty mags and 5 spares.

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